Feature by: Jack Foley
STEVEN Spielberg's War of the Worlds is a film that reflects
the times in which we live.
The source may be HG Wells' famous novel (first published in
1898) but its subject has taken on new relevance in light of recent
"It reflects a lot of our post 9-11 fears," states
Spielberg. "It reflects another impulse that we really are
human beings and we do come together, to help each other survive,
especially when we have a common enemy."
The film is set on America's East coast and finds Tom Cruise
as a father attempting to save his children from alien invasion.
It contains many of the hallmarks of Spielberg's style (exciting
set pieces, claustrophobic tension), but is told in a very personal
style (concentrating on the lives of just one family).
Yet it was this approach that drew Cruise to the project, having
previously worked with Spielberg on Minority Report.
"Steven does that with his movies and it brings you right
into those characters and their stories and you really care what
they are going through," he explained, while promoting the
Adds Spielberg: "It’s a very personal story, and these
cataclysmic events are crashing down, in front of and behind,
this kind of family story."
Early critics of the film have questioned why stars of the calibre
of Cruise and Spielberg have chosen to remake a movie, especially
since Independence Day, in 1996, had charted similar territory.
Yet both maintain that Wells' seminal science fiction work has
plenty of relevance for modern viewers and remains as scary as
when it first appeared.
Explains Spielberg: "I think this film, like Close Encounters
and Private Ryan, is very hyper-real, and I think that’s
where, if we play our cards right, it’s going to have it’s
most profound effect, in affecting an audience, and truly perhaps,
unsettling an audience, in that it is being played for the hyper-reality.
"Then into this reality comes
something that is beyond the imagination. It is very scary to
look at and certainly almost impossible to imagine, so we imagine
it for you."
Cruise, too, believes that Wells' work remains extremely relevant,
if not prophetic:
"When Orson Welles did his radio broadcast in 1938, it was
to the backdrop of the Nazis invading Poland, the threat of war.
"Then in the 1950s it was the Cold War. Great science fiction
has tremendous characters and is still relevant. It’s dealing
with universal themes such as what would happen? What is man’s
"Right now, it’s man on man, forever it’s been
man fighting man.
Man killing man for territory, for beliefs, not believing. Man
trying to dominate man. But man really doesn’t recognise
the common enemy, you know?
"Whether it’s drug addiction, illiteracy, criminality,
immorality. Those things that are rotting our societies at the
core. That’s what we all have in common. And that’s
what H.G Wells did with his book.
"He looked at what happens when man recognises a common
So what is it that Cruise hopes War of the Worlds will bring
to modern audiences?
"It would be nice if they walked out and wanted to hug their
children or maybe they want to take time with their family a little
"But there are many different layers to the film and I hate
to tell people what I want them to feel. I don’t want someone
to tell me what I should feel. I like to experience it for myself.
"When I was making this film I really thought about what
are the common enemies of mankind instead of man on man.
"So somewhere there is that thought of us wanting to unite
together, to battle those common enemies. And, of course, we want
to scare the audience, give them a great ride and wow them with
War of the Worlds: Review
War of the Worlds:
Tom Cruise interview